At our first big digital event, SaaStr Summit: Bridging the Gap, Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack, shared a funny story. He said with work-from-home, he was able to talk to a lot more customers.  A lot more. And that he was Zooming with a smaller enterprise customer they’d just closed, who told him “She was worried about Slack.”

“Why are you worried about the company?” Stewart asked.

“Because the CEO has time to talk to me! That’s always a bad sign!”

Ok, laugh. But there’s a bunch of interesting points in that story. Stewart had more time to talk to more customers — and go further down the list and talk to customers he didn’t have time to before we were all working from home. Instead of 2-3 big meetings a week, and maybe a few in-persons a month … CEOs can now talk to 10+ customers a week if they want, or even 20. That is so many more customer conversations.

Do it.

Our following session with the head of all corporate sales at Salesforce told a similar story. Yes, they missed the face-to-face interactions. But they were able to talk to 10x more customers over Zoom. And again, the customers loved the additional connections.

One thing I’ve learned over 15+ years of selling in SaaS is that I truly have never lost a customer I’ve ever visited in person.  And I rarely lost a customer talked I to “in person” over a lengthy Zoom or two. 

In other words, I almost never lost a customer that as CEO I had a personal connection to.

Today, times are harder again for many of us. Sales cycles are longer.  There’s more pressure on renewals, and upsells are much tougher.  But there’s one thing that always helps as CEO:  talk to more customers.  Both in person, and on Zoom.

Customers love to talk to the CEO.  Especially if the CEO listens to their concerns.  They feel respected.  They feel heard.  They feel a bond.  A bond that lasts years.

And it turns out, it even works in a 5 person company.  Maybe even just as well. 

Your customers have invested a lot in your product.  It means a lot to them to talk to the CEO, even when the vendor is tiny.  It may even mean more.   So don’t wait until you are a bigger start-up to start talking to more customers.  Leverage the fact that the title “CEO” matters to customers, no matter how new and raw your startup is.

Leverage that.  It’s a retention and upsell weapon.  Customers love to talk to the CEO.

So do 2x more customer meetings now that times are harder.  Talk to at least 10 customers a week over Zoom.  20 if you can make it happen.  Go visit 5-10 a month, one way or another.  They’ll trust you more.  Stay longer.  And buy more.

I Never Lost a Customer I Actually Visited In Person (Updated)

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